WHO Committee Declines To Label DRC Ebola Outbreak As International Emergency

Associated Press: U.N. says Congo’s Ebola outbreak not yet a global emergency
“The ongoing Ebola outbreak in Congo does not yet warrant being declared a global emergency but is of ‘deep concern,’ the World Health Organization said Friday. Following a meeting of its expert committee, the U.N. health agency called for efforts to be redoubled to stop the deadly virus, noting that the recent spike in Ebola cases raises the risk of spread to other countries…” (Cheng/Keaten, 4/12).

CIDRAP News: WHO experts: Ebola in DRC still not global emergency
“… ‘Although we have great concern about rising numbers in some regions, the outbreak has not spread internationally over many months,’ said Robert Steffen, PhD, the head of the committee, during press conference. ‘There is no added benefit to [a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) declaration], as excellent work is being done on the ground by WHO and its partner organizations’…” (Soucheray, 4/12).

The Hill: WHO declines to designate Ebola outbreak as international emergency
“…WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday that he had accepted the conclusions of an advisory emergency committee, meeting here at WHO’s world headquarters, which decided the outbreak had not yet reached the level of international concern…” (Wilson, 4/12).

New York Times: As Ebola Cases Rise in Congo, the WHO Declines to Issue Emergency Declaration
“…This is the second time since the outbreak began last year that the WHO has declined to issue such a declaration. The first was in October. Some researchers have urged the organization to do so for months; such pronouncements are reserved for epidemics that pose a serious threat to public health and could spread internationally. A global health emergency, they argue, would bring more money and international help to stamp out the disease…” (Grady, 4/12).

Science: Ebola outbreak in Congo still not an international crisis, WHO decides
“…Some public health experts believe WHO needed to take the dramatic step in order to draw greater attention — and funding — to fighting the DRC Ebola outbreak, which is centered in two conflict-ridden provinces the country’s northeast. Cases began to surface in August 2018, and the outbreak is now second in size only to the massive Ebola epidemic that devastated three West African countries between 2014 and 2016…” (Cohen, 4/12).

U.N. News: Ebola not an international ‘health emergency’ but risks spreading across DR Congo border, warns U.N. health agency
“…Because there is a very high risk of regional spread, the committee said that neighboring countries should continue to accelerate preparedness and surveillance, including vaccinating health care and front-line workers in surrounding countries. The Emergency Committee recommended that cross-border collaboration be strengthened, including through the timely sharing of Ebola data and alerts; community engagement; and awareness raising. Moreover, work should be done to better map population movements and understand the community networks which bridge national boundaries. The committee maintained its previous advice that no international travel or trade restrictions should be applied…” (4/12).

Additional coverage of the WHO’s decision is available from Agence France-Presse, Al Jazeera, Associated Press, Axios, BBC News, CNN, Healio, Nature, Reuters, Science Speaks, STAT, The Telegraph, VOA News, Vox, Washington Post, and Washington Times.

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